Saturday, August 23, 2008

Don't We All Know....

Someone who lives on this corner? Too funny, thanks JB.

Video Blog Site, We the People

I have a new site for a project I just started, We the People.

It's a Video Sociological Installation and I will be posting videos we film from Iran, as well clips people submit.

We the People of the Islamic Republic of Iran, is the launch installation, which I will follow up with We the People of the United Arab Emirates.

Thus August 21

Jeff, Sam and I were invited to have dinner at Joel Hynek's house. He is a friend and business associate and one of he best visual effects guys out there. Joel won the Academy Award for VFX for What Dreams May Come. Here is more info.

He and his better half Robin and his daughters Lindsey and Lauren were great hosts and we had some interesting discussions on the artistic aspects of film and VFX. This I REALLY like, as recently all I am doing is dealing with the business side. Lauren is also an aspiring screenwriter and her first script, which I have read, is quite good.

I am still amazed by the "barbecued peaches." Must be Canadian....

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Iran Trip

So it seems the question I keep hearing is "Why would you want to go to Iran? Aren't you afraid something will happen to you?"

Well I cannot predict the future, but I don't see it as being dangerous. On several occasions, Iran offered to enter into discussions regrading their nuclear program with the US and EU. Then in Nov of 2006, Ahmedinejad wrote an open letter to both Bush and the American people. This is what was the inspiration for getting Oliver Stone involved with this.

Now I'm not saying that I agree with everything that was in Ahmedinejad's address. However, why not open a conversation? The worst thing that could nothing. It certainly can't hurt anything. 

If you have not read this address, here is a link.

Ahmedinejad also wrote a letter to President Bush which is similar, here is the BBC link to it.

As to why I am going, I think that once you take politics out of it, most people want the same thing. A job where they can make enough money to have a decent life, to care for and enjoy their family and friends.

On our first trip there, we are planning to film people in the street and ask them their views on Americans and what they think about us. We will post these daily to a website which is being set up for this, so people can see what the response is. It will be interesting to speak to people old enough to have lived through the Revolution of 1979 and young people, who have only known having a President.

The follow up trip later this year, will be to film the actual documentary. 

Monday, August 18, 2008

This is a Test....

While I know those on the East side probably already know the answers, I bet most people on the West side don't. Here goes...

1. Do you have a CitiBank Credit Card? Did you know that the Abu Dhabi Investment Authority (ADIA) in the UAE bailed out floundering CitiBank to the tune of $7 billion? Did you know they also just bought the iconic Chrysler Building in New York? ADIA is currently the world's largest sovereign wealth fund. the second largest one is in China.

2. Did you know that the largest foreign owner of real estate in the US is the Middle East? Various companies and Govt. wealth funds across the Middle East own more real estate in our country, than any other foreign country.

3. Did you know that the UAE, Qatar, Kuwait, Bahrain, Oman and Saudi are all allies of the US and that we have either a land or sea military presence (or both) in most of these countries?

4. Did you know that HH Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed al Nahyan, the President of the UAE, made a donation of $100 million to the Hurricane Katrina disaster?

If you knew the answers to 2 or more questions, apparently you read the news. If you didn't know any of the answers...perhaps you should start reading.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Friday 08/15

I now have a crew together to film in Iran and am waiting on news regarding my visa. We are "planning" to go on a scouting trip in Sept. then back to film in Nov. It all depends on what the Iranians say.

It's amazing how many people in the US still think that a place like Abu Dhabi (AD)/Dubai must be full of terrorists.

I spoke to someone yesterday and when he asked where I lived and I said "The UAE, you know Dubai, AD," his answer was "Why, isn't there a lot of unrest there?"

There is zero unrest in AD, sometimes things happen in Dubai. I have friends in the police/CID there and yes, sometimes there are problems and we hear about them, but very few, especially in comparison to LA. Probably the only unrest would be a guy with a handful of hundreds down in Bur Dubai...that would certainly stir up the working girls...

Coming from Los Angeles, it's a WHOLE lot safer in AD. I don't go to an ATM machine in LA after dark, in AD you go whenever you want, no one bothers you. My girlfriend and go walking down by the water in the evening and again, people don't bother you at all and there are lots of families there. In fact, when I get back to LA, I have to keep remembering that I have to pay attention to other people and be alert. This is not the case in the UAE.

Eventually...hopefully...Americans will start to realize that every Arab is NOT a terrorist, that is a stereotype that keeps being put out there. It has been an educational compare/contrast for me living in both places.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

A Hat For The Camel

This is a short film I got a chance to see, which is really good. Tasha Brodie and her son, Thomas Sangster are involved with this through their film company, Brodie Films. Brodie Films is an independent film company that was started in 2006.

I met Tasha, Thomas and his sister Ava when they came to AD last year for a charity event screening of the film, The Last Legion, for The Manzil Center. Thomas has done quite a few movies, but is best known for Love Actually and Nannie Mcphee. He is set to star in a three picture deal for the Steven Spielberg/Peter Jackson franchise, Tin Tin. Thomas plays the main character, Tin Tin.

This first film from their company is very well done and it's a period piece which takes place during the Second World War. Tasha acts in the film and she also adapted it from a radio play written by her grandfather, Anthony Bertram. Thomas is the Executive Producer. Tasha has written several other scripts and did the sound track for the film. She is a quite a talented musician as well and actually started her career as a ballerina with the London City Ballet.

Their first feature film, Goddess, will be shot next summer. We are working to get A Hat For The Camel into the Abu Dhabi Film Festival, MEIFF, this fall.

Photo courtesy of Brodie Films

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Big Cat Rescue

We ended up filming the trailer for Big Cat Rescue in June. It is being done for International TV, my pitch being it's like the Osbourne's with tigers and lons. Ronel and her kids Chrissie and Steve, plus the feline family, are the stars.

Then Jeffrey Fleishman from the Los Angeles Times came to AD to do an article about me being an American woman in the entertainment business in the Middle East.

While he was here, I took him to AD Wildlife Center to see the place. Jeffrey ended up doing this piece for the LA Times on Ronel. Enjoy!

Back in LA Land/Iran Film

Ok, for the weekend, I am in AZ visiting my parents. And I was hoping to get away from the heat, it's actually hotter here than AD, but no humidity.

It has been a little hectic trying to put together a crew to take to film in Iran. I think most think I have lost my senses....

This will be a companion piece to the Oliver Stone/Mahmoud Ahmedinejad project. After having this project initially rejected (comments further down)...I ended up sending a letter to the President's office, and was informed that he had changed his mind, so it's now approved. It would be great if Mr. Stone decides to go ahead with this, but he's the person who decides. Even if it does go forward, it probably would not be until next year.

I had tried to find some investors for his film W but in the end, it was too controversial for the investors I know in the GCC. I did get a copy of the script, it's a great story, even if you are not a Bush fan.

The new Iran film will be about the Presidential Election process. I think most in the US forget that they also elect a president in Iran. Everyone's going to say "Yeah, but that's different," so we will go and see what it means to vote in Iran. I am currently writing the script, a documentary is quite different, as I have to do a lot of research into the history of Iran and their politics. Interesting stuff.

Without giving away too much, I have selected a known, diverse group to speak with. I have initial approval for this project, however, I ended up changing a few of the people I wanted to meet, so I am waiting to hear back on permission for the changes. For this project, we will not be interviewing President Ahmedinejad, as I don't think anyone could do this as well as Mr. Stone.

Javad, who works in the President's office is amazingly helpful getting things done for the project. Now I just have to get a crew together to take there. More on this tomorrow, as it's Sunday here.